Monday, June 28, 2010


Food for thought from yesterday's reading:

. . . If he tears down, none can rebuild;
if he shuts a man in, none can open.
If he withholds the waters, they dry up;
if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
With him are strength and sound wisdom;
the deceived and the deceiver are his.
- from Job 12:14-16

Wow, if I were Job, I don't know if I'd be talking like this! Job is a ruined man, even though he has done all the right things, and he's earned a pass to his own private, pity party. Yet here stand his words, preserved for all posterity. He asserts that God works with a sure hand, and that what God sets out to accomplish will be done.

How do you feel about Job's words? Do they reassure you, or do they disquiet you? I'm here to tell you (and to remind myself), that IF you have entrusted your life to God's will, and if you are trying to walk according to the plans he has for you, then these are words of encouragement and comfort - especially in hard times!

Even if you are in a time of uncertainty and distress, God is aware and in charge. We can learn a thing or two from Job, even as he sits on a heap of garbage and scratches his festering sores. He NEVER stops believing that God is in control. My situation has never been so extreme, but can I say the same?

When I get discouraged, I tend to doubt that God sees or cares about my situation. I forget to focus my attention on his sure hand, but instead I think of my own problems, and feel sorry for myself. The other day, when I was down in the dumps, I ran across the verse below, and here it is again in today's reading:

. . . “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him . . . ”
- from Acts 8:32-33

The words above are quoted from an old prophecy, and they don't refer to an ordinary guy like Job, but to the Lord Jesus himself, and his attitude when he suffered for no fault of his own. This is the model to follow: to open not our mouths to complain! When and if we are frustrated with life, let's remember Jesus, as well as Job. Let's insist upon trusting God. Remember this promise:

The LORD will
fulfill his purpose for me . . .

- from Psalm 138:8

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I'm amazed at the story of Esther.

In her time, the people of Persia came to respect the Jews because of the uncanny way God protected them from harm. Haman, a high official who instigated a plot to wipe out the entire Hebrew population, found his plan frustrated in the most ironic possible way when he was required to honor Mordecai, the one Jew he loathed more than any other.

Haman had prepared to annihilate Jews everywhere, but because he hated Mordecai most, he had a special punishment prepared for just for him. He had set up an executioner's gallows in his front yard with Mordecai's name on it. Before he could get rid of Mordecai, though, his plan began to unravel. The king ordered him to heap praises and honors upon his foe (read the story).

When Haman went home and complained to his wife, she couldn't help but notice the irony and poetic justice. Her response was prophetic when she said, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” - from Esther 6:13. How true, and how sure is God's power to save his people.

The New Testament section of the June 22 reading included Gamaliel's advice to the authorities not to outlaw the early Christians' efforts to spread the gospel message. He warned, “ . . . if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” - from Acts 5:38-39. So true! God has an uncanny, poetic way of ensuring that his plans, both great and small, will come to pass.

For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the LORD, plans for welfare
and not for evil, to give you
a future and a hope.
- Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Ever feel opposition pressing in from all sides? You may not find yourself out in the desert wearing fatigues, but believe me, if you are pursuing God, your enemy is real; he's poised and ready, waiting for a chance to take you down (see more). I love the words of Nehemiah from today's reading, when he was pressed by enemies on all sides. He spoke not only to his own fears, but to all who were, like him, seeking to do what they should:

. . . “Do not be afraid of them.
Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome,
and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters,
your wives, and your homes.” - from Nehemiah 4:14

You may have noticed, as we began the book of Nehemiah in yesterday's reading, one prominent habit of this extraordinary leader. He PRAYED. When he heard about the terrible state of disrepair in his hometown of Jerusalem, he PRAYED. When the king (his boss) noticed his sadness and asked what was wrong, he PRAYED before he dared give an explanation.

When the king authorized him to go back to Jerusalem and see what was to be done, and his peers opposed him, said rude things, and did everything they could to make his job more difficult, he PRAYED. He prayed at every turn, and then he kept right on going with the work God had for him to do!

Nehemiah knew something very important: that it was God who would fight the big battles on his behalf. He may have learned this from the example of David, or from Hezekiah, or from countless others (like Esther and Job, whose life stories are coming up later this month). I hope we can learn to pray at every turn, to trust God, and stick to the work he has laid out for us to do! What an awesome example to follow!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Silly, Sad King Asa

Context is sobering at times. There's a sad story wrapped around the passage we love to quote from yesterday's reading:

" . . . the eyes of the Lord run to and fro
throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those
whose heart is blameless toward him . . ."
- from 2 Chronicles 16:9

How much I'm like silly, sad King Asa, who relied upon the Lord in the early years of his reign (because he had no choice!), only to abandon Him when his prospects improved. Asa was sadly outnumbered by his enemies at the beginning of his reign, and God delivered him big-time.

It is ironically improbable, and sad, and downright silly that thirty-five years later, when his resources allowed him to buy aid from a neighboring nation, King Asa decided it was a better bet to trust Syria than to continue to depend upon God for his safety and security.

Lord help me to learn from the context here, and to heed the sober warning not to exhaust myself in futility when all I need to do is turn to Him to keep me safe!